Rising Costs Erode Moral Pillar Of NYC’s Famed Free College

s-COOPER-UNION-SPLASH-large300NEW YORK — For more than a century, Cooper Union has been a one-of-a-kind meritocracy: Open to any student qualified to walk through its doors. For free.

Its founder envisioned higher education open to all – regardless of race, gender or class – an ideal that has remained the prestigious school’s most cherished principle since 1902.

But a lot can change in 100 years. Cooper’s Board of Trustees is expected to vote later this month in favor of a proposal to charge its undergraduates something – anything – for their education.

Angry alumni have penned letters. Students have protested, even occupying part of university building where Abraham Lincoln gave a famous anti-slavery speech. But they’ve all run up against a hard reality: Money woes caused by the economic collapse and rising costs mean Cooper can no longer afford the perk that has been held up as a sacrosanct part of the school’s identity. Continue reading “Rising Costs Erode Moral Pillar Of NYC’s Famed Free College”

Students March Through New York For Small School’s Struggle

NEW YORK — When George Caffentzis was teaching philosophy in 1976 at the City University of New York system, none of his students had to pay tuition.

That changed within a matter of just two years after New York City went into a financial crisis and needed help from the federal government. Because the city was broke, Caffentzis said, so too was the CUNY system, and charging tuition quickly became a proposition.

“So in order to presumably beat the debt, tuition would have to be charged. So this was the logic that occurred in 1976 and led to a historic change,” Caffentzis said, “and eventually led to a decline in enrollments,” as well as mass layoffs of non-tenured faculty, including himself. Continue reading “Students March Through New York For Small School’s Struggle”